Personal tools
You are here: Home ›› Blog and Discussion ›› A look back at my time with Western States Center

A look back at my time with Western States Center

Posted by Jamee Greer at Dec 20, 2014 02:18 PM |

This week, I am moving back to Wisconsin to reunite with my partner and his kids. (I may be on the road somewhere in Idaho or Montana or North Dakota as you read this!) It's a really bittersweet moment for me. I've grown so much through my work with the Center, built really beautiful relationships and friendships in the Northwest, and been honored to be part of some true movement-building work that will keep me fire- up for a long time. There is a lot more road I want to walk - and will find ways to walk - with the organizers, leaders, and partner groups that I’ve had a chance to work alongside of.

This week, I am moving back to Wisconsin to reunite with my partner and his kids. (I may be on the road somewhere in Idaho or Montana or North Dakota as you read this!) It's a really bittersweet moment for me. I've grown so much through my work with the Center, built really beautiful relationships and friendships in the Northwest, and been honored to be part of some true movement-building work that will keep me fired-up for a long time. There is a lot more road I want to walk - and will find ways to walk - with the organizers, leaders, and partner groups that I’ve had a chance to work alongside of in my time with the Center. 

Next month I’ll start as the Community Mobilization Manager at the National Network of Abortion Funds, a co-founder of the Coalition for Abortion Access and Reproductive Equity (CAARE) to which our BRAVE work is connected. And so I'll definitely be staying in the family and finding every excuse I can to visit the Northwest! 

I am so absolutely proud of and humbled by our work together at Western States Center. In We are BRAVE (Building Reproductive Autonomy and Voices for Equity), we have built an incredible network of individual leaders of color, doing groundbreaking work in their organizations and their communities, who are truly building power for reproductive justice and abortion access. Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) joined BRAVE with a clear commitment to strengthen their capacity to organize around issues disproportionately affecting Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women and LGBTQ people in their base. They supported the leadership of two remarkable, whip-smart volunteers, Marilou Carrera and Kara Carmosino, who together with APANO staff built a 15-member Strong Families working group. This basebuilding group does political education, leadership development, and storytelling work to lift-up experiences of API communities around gender and sexuality to ensure that all families have the social, economic, and political power and resources to thrive.

Marilou, a registered nurse, and Kara, an education advocate, logged many, many hours meeting with folks who would become part of Strong Families, developing, and training workshops, and charting out a vision for what living by reproductive justice values looks like for API communities. APANO staff Luann Algoso reflects, “Kara knew about APANO a few years back but didn’t think we’d have a space for her. The Strong Families Working Group was a place she could be all of herself - a queer woman of color that sees the intersectionality in gender, race, class, age, and so forth, in all of our work.” In November, the board followed the leadership of the Strong Families Working group by voting unanimously to adopt a Strong Families lens in all their program and policy work. APANO also has played an instrumental role in shaping the 2015 policy agenda for reproductive health access for all women and all people who can get pregnant, including undocumented communities, legal permanent residents with a five-year bar on access to Medicaid, and COFA Pacific Islanders.

Together with leaders like Marilou and Kara and organizations like APANO, Momentum Alliance (whom I’ve written about previously), and Mano a Mano, we had a big BRAVE year in 2014! We wrote a toolkitproduced a video sharing our vision, and held about 35 workshops for members and partnership organizations. We spent a sunny afternoon collecting 650 signatures from Oregonians demanding from Congress a repeal of all abortion coverage bans, and we worked closely with two coalitions to get ready to mobilize for proactive policies in 2015 that would ensure reproductive health access to all women and all communities in Oregon. All told, 30 BRAVE leaders reached a total of 4500 folks, mostly in communities of color who often don’t have the opportunity to weigh in on reproductive justice-related policy, and built a strong base of support.

I am also inspired by the efforts of the organizations participating in our first multi-state Uniting Communities cohort. Twelve organizations in Washington, Nevada, and Oregon came together to build their skills and strategies for organizing at the intersections of LGBTQ justice, racial justice, and economic justice. I got to work closely with two groups who pushed their own boundaries to deepen their power and visions for collective liberation through Uniting Communities. 

During our Coming Out for Social Justice social media campaign, Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO), a pan-immigrant and refugee organization, come out with a strong and clear call-to-action around LGBTQ justice. CIO supported the leadership development of two leaders that would come on as staff organizers, Zack Mohamed and Oscar Guerra-Vera. Zack and Oscar built a cultural work group for LGBTQ immigrants and refugees called Resilient Connections and worked with other CIO staff to expand their End Profiling campaign to specifically account for the experiences of queer and trans people of color around criminalization and profiling. CIO found that engaging intersections to make sure no members of their community are left behind; they were able to build more power and carry their End Profiling campaign to a victory. [link]

Entre Hermanos is an LGBTQ Latin@ organization in Seattle that, through Uniting Communities, made a deep, organization-wide investment in community organizing. Entre Hermanos ensured that all staff receives extensive organizing training to be able to link their frontlines health promotion and HIV prevention work with opportunities to engage LGBTQ Latin@s in struggle against a broad range of threats to their own survival – homophobic and transphobic violence, criminalization and deportations, gentrification, and precarious work conditions. As part of the Coming Out for Social Justice campaign, the organization collected signatures to a statement supporting fellow activists’ direct action for #Not1More (a campaign against deportation and separation of families) in Tacoma and Seattle. [link]

In Coming Out for Social Justice, the twelve Uniting Communities groups engaged in five days of action lifting up narratives of LGBTQ communities of color in their visions and leadership for collective liberation. Their blogs, images, social media posts, and email blasts reached tens of thousands of people, gained the support of 38 national partner organizations, and also supported organizations to develop lasting communications skills and strategies.

I have so appreciated the commitment, the talent, and the warmth of the amazing Center staff, board, supporters, and partners, and to the chance to be part of your amazing work and vision! This month, I signed up as a monthly donor to Western States Center to make good on my deep belief in our shared power for cultural and political change. I hope you will join me by making the contribution that you can!

 

Until soon,

Cynthia Lin

Facebook Like Box
 
powered by Plone | site by Groundwire Consulting and served with clean energy